Research seminar “A matter of trust? The bond market benefits of corporate social capital during the financial crisis”

2018-03-16 14:54:41

Seminar Announcement Henri (1)


WHEN: Thursday, October 5th, 12 p.m. – 1 p.m.

WHERE: Block C3 (GSB/GSPP Building), 3rd floor, Room 3037

ABSTRACT: (please see file attached)

We investigate whether a firm’s social capital, and the trust that it engenders, are viewed favorably by bondholders. Using the financial crisis as an exogenous shock to trust, and firms’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities as a proxy for social capital, we show that high-CSR firms benefited from lower bond spreads in the secondary market during the financial crisis compared to low-CSR firms. These findings are more pronounced for firms that, when in distress, have a greater opportunity to engage in asset substitution or divert cash to shareholders. High-CSR firms were also able to raise more debt capital on the primary market during this period, and those high-CSR firms that raised more debt were able to do so at lower at-issue bond spreads, better initial credit ratings, and for longer maturities. Our results suggest that debt investors believe that high-CSR firms are less likely to engage in asset substitution and diversion that would be detrimental to stakeholders, including debtholders. These findings also indicate that the benefits of CSR that accrued to shareholders during the financial crisis carry across to another important asset class, debt capital.


Professor Henri Servaes is Professor of Finance at London Business School. He holds a BBA from European University and a MSIA and PhD in finance from Purdue University. His areas of interest include corporate control, corporate diversification, initial public offerings, capital structure, and mutual funds. He has published articles on these topics in all the leading finance journals, including the Journal of Finance, the Journal of Financial Economics, and the Review of Financial Studies. He serves as an associate editor of the Journal of Finance, Financial Management and a number of other finance journals. 

He has had previous appointments at the University of Chicago, the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium), Duke University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and taught in MBA programs in Russia and the Czech Republic, and in doctoral programs in Belgium and Switzerland.

Professor Servaes has also been involved in consulting and executive education for Anglo American plc, the Chase Manhattan Bank, Deutsche Bank AG, The Financial Times (Lex Team), First Union Corporation, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, SG Hambros, and Suez, SA, among others.